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2300ad: Libreville: Corruption in the Core Worlds

This review originally appeared on rpg-resource.org.uk in March 2016, and was reprinted in the September/October 2016 issue.

2300ad: Libreville: Corruption in the Core Worlds. Wesley Street.
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
70pp., PDF
US$11.99/UKú9.03

Libreville is an Earth city that will be familiar to anyone with thoughts of leaving the planet—it’s the base of the Beanstalk and has several spaceports nearby, as well as being a major shipping centre and port for water-based transportation. Just about every corporation and foundation has offices there as well, but whilst this massive city has areas of great wealth there are also some appalling slums. This book is both a sourcebook for Libreville and its surroundings and a full-blown adventure. There are also sample vehicles, spaceships, robots, NPCs, and random encounters relevant to Libreville which you can use whenever your plot takes the party there.

The first chapter, History, contains just that, the story of how Libreville came to the prominence it has today. Africa survived the wars of the 21st century relatively unscathed, but without the steady stream of aid from the West many nations struggled until South Africa—now under the name Azania—and Mozambique began to flourish and France started taking an interest and brought many former colonies back into its sphere of influence. This included Gabon, in which Libreville is to be found, which is now a full department of Metropolitan France, represented in the French Chamber of Deputies and with all citizens being considered as French.

This is followed by a chapter on Geography, including maps, weather patterns and notes on wildlife (including game stats, should your party wish to mix it with a hippo or an elephant). There are also some details of police equipment and vehicles—now, are the Gendarmes Gabonaise more or less scary than a hippo? Maybe your party will find out!

We then move on to Life in the City. French public relations firms describe Libreville as a Xanadu on the Atlantic, but it’s not quite as idyllic as this might suggest. It is a place of extremes, with the abject poverty of the ‘Mudville’ slums contrasting with enclaves run as gated compounds by corporations for their employees and the central business district where their offices and the residences of the truly wealthy are to be found. There’s a map and description, along with some sample spaceplanes and aircraft to be found in the ports outside the city. There’s even a sample bus from the city streets, a taxi and a dustcart—familiar sights to any resident or visitor. There’s material about surveillance and advertising, common trends and fashions, all manner of little details that helps bring the place to life. Ideas for encounters and even more detail of what’s to be found downtown and in corporate enclaves add to this information, and Mudville life is covered as well.

An added dimension comes from the final two ‘sourcebook’ chapters: Politics and Power, and Personalities. Here we learn how Libreville is governed, administered and policed, as well as about the major corporate players. There are also foundations and other non-commercial enterprises and of course criminal gangs, organised crime and other less desirable groups. The Personalities chapter presents a host of notable individuals which the party will hear about on the news, even if they never get to meet them... but plenty of ideas are provided to embroil the party in their affairs.

Finally comes the adventure, Mud Sticks. Violence in Mudville is on the rise and the party is hired to investigate. The whole thing hangs together well although it’s admittedly rather linear, chasing from clue to clue. You might want to mix things up a bit if you feel it railroads the characters excessively. There’s a lot here, loads of people to talk to and the odd opportunity to brawl, although this is the sort of urban adventure where brawling tends to be frowned upon, although infiltration skills will come into play.

Everything is very atmospheric, you can almost feel the African sun and smell the jungle (and urban) smells. Groups which like urban intrigues will find this an interesting place in which to become involved, and anyone leaving (or arriving) on Earth is likely to at least pass through. Make this sprawling city a vivid feature of your game, you now have the tools to make it so.